Hands on shoulders

“Sophistication”, pp.150 “George and Helen arose and walked away into the darkness. They went along a path past a field of corn that had not yet been cut. The wind whispered among the dry corn blades. For a moment during the walk back into town the spell that held them was broken. When they had come to the crest of Waterworks Hill they stopped by a tree and George again put his hands on the girl’s shoulders. She embraced him eagerly and then again they drew quickly back from that impulse. They stopped kissing and stood a little apart. Mutual respect grew big in them. They were both embarrassed and to relieve their embarrassment dropped into the animalism of youth. They laughed and began to pull and haul at each other. In some way chastened and purified by the mood they had been in, they became, not man and woman, not boy and girl, but excited little animals.”

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“Little animals“… “In youth there are always two forces fighting in people. The warm unthinking little animal struggles against the thing that reflects and remembers, and the older, the more sophisticated thing had possession of George Willard.” (pp.148) The phrase also occurs in God (ii) and (iv), most especially with reference to the sacrificial lamb:

There was something in the helplessness of the little animal held so tightly in his arms that gave him courage. He could feel the rapid beating of the beast’s heart and that made his own heart beat less rapidly.


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